Tuesday, February 5, 2008

2008 Androscoggin County Chamber awards

There is a great marketing slogan that the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council has adopted, "L-A: It's Happening Here." For those of us that are involved in the commmunity and in particular, have spent time with the area's Chamber of Commerce, we know that this is much more than just a slogan.

The Lewiston-Auburn area is experiencing noticeable growth and expansion. Much of the credit goes to the area businesses that go beyond mere commerce, to actively participate in the act of community that has brought new energy and a sense of vibrancy to these twin cities on either side of the Androscoggin River.

At the Chamber's annual dinner, last Thursday night, a variety of local businesses/individuals received a variety of awards. Below is a partial list, with notes, taken from the dais (and the Lewiston SunJournal). You can access the entire list here.

• Business Leadership Award, smaller company, to Wei Li Chinese Restaurant and owner Cam Lu. Besides running a successful, health-conscious restaurant, Lu was cited for his civic responsibility and fundraising efforts for charities.

• Business Leadership Award, larger company, to WahlcoMetroFlex. Following a management buyout in 2001, the company has grown steadily, transforming itself into a smartly run prosperous business obsessed with quality and customer service. The company is expanding, bringing new vitality to Maine's manufacturing sector.

• Education/Business Partnership Award to Steve Wessler, executive director of the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence. Under Wessler's leadership, the center's "community conversations" provide a vehicle for new Somali residents to discuss issues with their native-born neighbors.

• President's Award to Fuel, Fish Bones and Gerry Dennison. To the restaurants for their work in reviving the downtown's image by operating world-class restaurants in renovated, historic buildings. And to Dennison, a state Department of Labor analyst, for his help in growing economic development.

• Ray Geiger Award to Bud Willey, Canteen Services, for his tireless work with the chamber. "I know of no single individual who has so consistently supported the chamber over such a long period of time," said Chip Morrison, chamber president.

Dennison's award was fitting to a longtime public employee and someone who epitomizes the kind of quiet integrity that often gets lost in today's bloodsport of bashing government and public service.

Chip Morrison, Chamber President (and former DOL Commissioner), noted that “this is really a Lifetime Achievement Award”.

The Sun Journal supplement to the Chamber Dinner read, “Even a title that long (referring to Gerry’s MDOL title, which is a long one) cannot begin to describe the enormous contributions Dennison has made to the citizens and economy of Maine, but especially to the Lewiston-Auburn community. With virtually a photographic memory for all the details of government, of economic data, for how government and the economy impact average citizens, Dennison has been a unique resource to the businesses, to local governments, to economic development agencies and to the LA community for more than two decades. A long time Auburn City counselor, Dennison has also been a major force with the Chamber, with the Lewiston Auburn Economic Growth Council, Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments, and has served with distinction on a long list of philanthropic interests. Gerry has had a huge impact on the revitalization of LA," Morrison said.”

When he retires this spring, Maine's Department of Labor will lose a key employee and resource and illstrates the loss that occurs when experienced employees leave their positions.

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